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To undertake an OU degree even though it is unlikely to benefit my career?

(53 Posts)
Clash1001 Sat 13-Jun-15 10:37:06

Morning all.

I want to do an OU degree - am looking at a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing. I think I would find the course interesting.

I work full time as an accountant and tax advisor and have professional qualifications - ACA and CTA - relevant to the industry. I love my job and am fairly successful and want to remain in the profession for the rest of my working life, so not doing a degree in order to enable a career change.

I never had the opportunity to go to a traditional uni due to family circumstances, despite getting good a level results (three A's in law, sociology and combined English language/literature) I really enjoyed the English literature side.

I do feel a bit bitter that I don't have a degree, although I don't think its hampered my career in any way. Dh is supportive however the idea has been met with raised eyebrows from other family members. It will cost 16k in all and take 5-6 years to complete. They say it's a huge waste of money, and I can see why they say that - but I do enjoy studying and think this is something I could be really proud of.

Dh has pointed out, however, that I have been studying for years for my professional exams and maybe it's time for a bit of a break. I think he's worried that it will take over all my spare time. I'm not so sure it will - certainly, studying for my ACA and CTA didn't apart from in the fortnight before exams, although I'm not sure how comparable the two are - I do know that I passed, and passed well, in less than half the recommended 'study at home hours'.

Has anyone here done an OU degree? Particularly for reasons other than career? Does it take over your life?

PenguinBollards Sat 13-Jun-15 10:51:05

I did a second degree via the OU, and it was certainly more intensive than my first undergraduate degree being 19 and carefree vs being in my 30s and working full time), so to an extent it did take over my life.

I've done several of the OUs creative writing modules, and I rate them highly. Go for it! smile

LazyLouLou Sat 13-Jun-15 10:53:05

I only had to read the thread title to know my answer - Good grief, no!

The only reason to do a degree is because you want to. Your DHs opinion that you might want a break is just that, his opinion. It is nice of him to be concerned, he does have reason, if it would take up all your spare time (you could slow it down and take less units per year).

Your family members can get lost, it is absolutely none of their business!

I hope the responses you get here help you, good luck.

PenguinBollards Sat 13-Jun-15 10:53:30

Oops - missing opening bracket up there, sorry it's hard to read! blush

redskybynight Sat 13-Jun-15 11:03:16

I don't think you ABU to undertake a degree. I do think you need to be realistic about how much time you need to commit to it.

Most people I know who do OU degrees do end up committing a large chunk of their spare time to completing them.

The OU sugggest that you need about 16 hours a week to study a degree part time over 6 years. You should maybe consider a student forum or similar to see if that is a sensible amount of time for your particular selected degree. My own gut feeling would be that your subject will involve a lot of reading and essay writing which is generally quite time consuming.

Clash1001 Sat 13-Jun-15 11:17:53

Thanks for the responses so far. I think you're right, I need to have a good look at the time commitments.

16 hours per week is a big commitment week in, week out for six years. It's doable though - four hours sat and sun morning, then a couple of hours after work four nights a week. I can see why dh is concerned that it might be too much.

I also have the option of compacted working, so doing five days over four which may work out better and I was considering anyway.

But yes, I'm definitely need to get a realistic idea of how much time I will need to spend on it - particularly for that specific course.

hiddenhome Sat 13-Jun-15 11:23:27

Dh did an OU degree and the work was intensive. Don't underestimate it. He was sick and tired by the end.

Just do some separate modules or something.

crazykat Sat 13-Jun-15 12:09:00

I'm halfway through a psychology honours degree with the OU. It takes 20+ hours a week and my entire life the couple of weeks before an exam, this is for a level 2 module worth 60 credits.

For us it's worth it as it will hopefully help with my career prospects. In your shoes I don't know if it would be worth it for me while my dcs are young. I understand the desire for a degree but the time commitment would be too much to get a degree just for the sake of it.

You could do as pp suggested and just do a few modules or wait until you have more spare time.

PolterGoose Sat 13-Jun-15 12:09:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Floisme Sat 13-Jun-15 12:18:26

I'm doing a part time MA. At times it takes over my life but sometimes I do nothing for months on end. It certainly won't benefit my career, in fact the way things are going, I'll probably have been put out to grass by the time I finish it grin. But I love it and it's given me a kick up the arse in the best possible way.

pressone Sat 13-Jun-15 12:29:02

I did a literature degree with the OU. Not needed for my career but just wanted to keep my brain alive and do something that was just for me (was feeling a bit defined as a Mum/Boss/Wife all things defined by other people's expectations so I indulged in something "just for me".

I guess it depends on your learning style but I certainly was not spending 16 hours every week on my studies, two longish (10hr) days a month, I work shifts so am often of in the week when everyone else is out so comparable with your compressed hours idea.

At the time I had two teenagers, worked full time in a managerial position and ran the house. I gained a 2:1 BA (Hons) despite having a brain aneurysm and losing a whole years worth of memories (and books read!!!) in the middle of it.

Of course I am proud of how my children have turned out, and that they both say I inspired them to study, but getting my degree under these circumstances is the thing I am most proud of for me.

Go for it!

Muskey Sat 13-Jun-15 12:30:26

I did both a ba and ma (history)with the ou and ironically enough recently went to a "proper university" to do a degree in psychology. Neither of my ou degrees were helpful in getting a job but I loved every minute. The ou can take over your life but it opens your eyes to a much wider world. What really made me laugh when I did my psychology degree the tutors kept using ou materials. This was especially interesting when so many youngsters on the course kept saying they would never do an ou degree as it wasn't a proper degree course.

SwedishEdith Sat 13-Jun-15 12:30:55

If you can afford it, definitely do one. I loved it and it was just for me, no direct career benefit (although, it has, indirectly). But, I completed it when it was cheaper - I wouldn't be able to justify the cost now.

I never did anything like regular 16 hours study per week. I'd just have a flurry before each assignment - and got good grades. But, that depends on how you work.

For the final examinable work for your level 3 courses it will take over your life for 3 to 4 weeks at the end. But you might thrive on that pressure. I loved it and really miss it.

longjane Sat 13-Jun-15 12:32:40

Do you have children?
What hobbies/studying does your DH do?
How much time do you have as a couple /family.
This is fun degree and shold be treated as such so everything else in your life should come 1st before studying if you still have time left after family /couple stuff household stuff and work and date night with DH then you should do it.

pressone Sat 13-Jun-15 12:42:34


I absolutely disagree with this entirely. Why on earth should someone's personal aspirations come last?

I agree that relationships with family are important and need time and energy to thrive, but household stuff - get a cleaner, children - need quality time but functional things like Mum's taxi service? No, book them a taxi. Stuff for self should not always take last place.

MokunMokun Sat 13-Jun-15 12:44:13

I agree with the others that it's fine to do it for interest rather than a career move but you really have to consider the time and financial commitment. I know a few people who have done OU degrees and it is a huge commitment. I would love to do one myself one day though.

PolterGoose Sat 13-Jun-15 12:44:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CamelHump Sat 13-Jun-15 12:45:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Floisme Sat 13-Jun-15 12:46:50

everything else in your life should come 1st before studying shock
Please tell me you're joking.

Spog Sat 13-Jun-15 13:33:46

i wouldn't bother if its not going to benefit my career.
unless of course you're planning on changing career in the future.
the degree will be more involved that you realise.
i could think of better ways to spend my money and time.

GreatAuntDinah Sat 13-Jun-15 13:42:08

I'd definitely advise you to dip your toe in the water with a couple of free MOOCs first to see how you get on with the time commitment before spending all that money.

cashewnutty Sat 13-Jun-15 13:44:09

Go for it. I did an OU degree for fun then it led on to me doing another qualification in the job i do now. Someone i know was a doctor, did an OU degree in an environmental subject and now works in that area. You never know where it might lead you in the future.

GreatAuntDinah Sat 13-Jun-15 13:45:06

Here for example, a free ENg Lit course from Yale: and creative writing moocs at

RVPisnomore Sat 13-Jun-15 13:50:44

I'm currently studying for a work based masters and it was originally sold as around 10 hours per week with some of that time in the office. However, the reality is that it's more like double that and a lot is weekends. Despite this I am determined to finish as I am enjoying it and now have around about 9 months left to go.
It has impacted on family life so I would say do it if you really want to and will enjoy it don't otherwise as 5 years is a long time.

KingOfTheStupids Sat 13-Jun-15 14:03:05

I look at my OU degree work as my hobby. The cost is far less than the cost of DH's gym membership which we pay for as he enjoys going and it helps him relax. I see my studying as the equivalent for me although not so good for the waistline

I don't spend the 16 hours a week they suggest, more like 6 hours, but I am happy with the grades I'm achieving.

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